2016-09-16 07:09

What it's about:

A young woman's worst nightmare becomes her waking reality after a parasitic outbreak wipes out half of the human population and disrupts her peaceful suburban existence. Uncertain about her future, she begins to document life in her quarantined hometown and tries to protect her infected sister as society begins to fall apart.

What we thought:

It’s been a while since a zombie flick has hit our cinemas, and although this one went straight to video in the US, Viral’s take on the undead affliction is a little cleverer than your usual fare. From the directors and writers of Catfish and Paranormal Activity, this horror focuses a little more on teenage akwardness, sisterly devotion and why we should be petrified of worms becoming sentient.

While sensing some tension at home, teenager Emma (Sofia Black-D’Elia) starts to fit in at a new school with a new best friend and potential love interest (Travis Tope), but things start to get weird as a viral infection called ‘Worm Flu’ starts sweeping across the planet. While her parents are away, the whole town is put under quarantine, leaving Emma and her rebellious older sister Stacey (Analeigh Tipton) alone at home. As the infection spreads, Emma tries all she can to save her sister, but soon realises that the ‘infected’ aren’t as mindless as they appear.

Unlike the brain-chomping undead or rage-induced sprinters, Viral’s zombie has a much more sinister agenda hiding behind those dead eyes – parasitic worms that take over the person’s body and intent on spreading their eggs through vomiting blood. This makes for a slightly more unique film, although the origins of these worms are never explained which could have made it more interesting. But in the bigger picture the characters are more central to the plot than the earworm zombies. 

Although its centred around the most self-involved group of people – teenagers – the film narrowly avoided it becoming an all out make out sesh and end-of-the-world banger without grownups. Instead, it focuses more on the relationships within a family and the bond between sisters. Having a little sister of my own, Emma’s desperation to cure her sister might seem like stupidity at first, but let’s be real – if the apocalypse ever descends upon our already screwed up world, we are all going to try and protect our loved ones as best as we can. Black-D’Elia (Gossip Girl, Skins) and Tipton (Warm Bodies, Hung) sold the audience on that love-hate relationship we all have with our siblings, and the tense emotional moments may or may not have elicited a tear or two.

As for the love interest boy-next-door, their romance starts of awkward as hell which is surprisingly realistic in my experience, except for the body-controlling-worms of course, and was a good compliment to the sister saga. The writers were very self-contained and kept the plot simple yet interesting and didn’t overreach with the epidemic. Although Viral can hardly be called a silent hit or future cult classic, it’s definitely a fair share better than some other B-grade horror flicks to come out of the dodgy part of Hollywood. 

Not exactly the scariest horror, Viral has no pretences about trying to scare you out of your seat and rather stuck to simplicity and straightforward storytelling that gives a portrait of a family in the middle of a worldwide crisis. Don’t go in thinking it’ll blow your mind, but don’t discount it as another teenage tantrum thrown during the apocalypse.

Read more on:    viral  |  movies

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.